Have you ever considered using cannabidiol (CBD) for chronic pain relief? I didn’t. Sure, I’d read some stuff in the news about marijuana’s “awesome” healing properties, but to be honest, I’d always thought it was a bunch of BS. I’d picture myself smoking a big joint, getting really paranoid, feeling out of my head and still having a seriously bad migraine. Oh, and going to bed and not sleeping because I’d be spinning and—did I say it before?—so incredibly paranoid. Definitely not my happy place.
My perception of medical marijuana was way off base. There are multiple different types of cannabinoids within the cannabis plant, and CBD is almost exclusively used for medical relief. CBD, unlike its twin sister-from-a-different-mister tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), doesn’t get people high.
Based on a personal friend’s recommendation, I ended up trying CBD for migraine pain relief, and to my great surprise, it worked. This is my story on how I got off Vicodin and started using CBD to manage chronic pain caused by crazy, intense migraines.
My Debilitating Migraines Started in Adolescence
I’ve had migraine headaches since I was 14. Head-splitting, painful whoppers that left me in bed for days. The first time I had a migraine, I was swimming a 100-metre race in high school. I nearly won, but when I got out of the pool, I fell to the ground. I was struck by migraine lightning that left me blind, vomiting and out of my skull for the next 12 hours. That was the start of it all.
For the last 25 years or so, it was much the same, although I’ve learned that hormonal spikes most often cause migraines in conjunction with stress, diet and lack of exercise. Getting pregnant? A really bad idea if you get hormonal migraines. Three pregnancies later, I found my headaches were as bad, if not worse, than in adolescence. So was my mood.
When you feel chronic pain this badly, I believe most people are willing to do just about anything to feel pain relief. (I’m included in that group.) This led me to try out a barrage of drugs to find a “cure.” (By the way, there isn’t one unless you think cutting off your head is a solution.) At the very least, I was hoping to find something that might give me significant pain relief.
Exercise, Diet, Narcotics & Migraine Meds for Fleeting Pain Relief
Yoga, Pilates and CrossFit helped me. Other than drugs, adding more exercise to my weekly routine and a significant change in my diet including dropping gluten and soy helped alleviate the worst kinds of migraines. That’s semi-code for the migraines that blind you and give you the dreaded-dotted-panic-attack-inducing aura.
That said, no matter what changes I made, a migraine still seemed to rear its ugly head. Enter migraine management with narcotics and heavy-duty migraine medications such as Imitrex. For the most part, I’ve found migraine meds like Imitrex too debilitating. I end up foggy, drooling and practically comatose in bed, unable to do much, but still with a nagging pain in the head.
Vicodin is a combination of the narcotic hydrocodone (a synthetic opioid made from codeine) and non-narcotic pain reliever acetaminophen. On a monthly basis, I found that taking Vicodin at the onset of a headache helped to both stop it from getting worse while also giving significant pain relief with minor side effects.
Struggling to Balance Migraine Pain Relief With Opioid Dependence
Finding pain relief with Vicodon was fantastic, but it also had a significant downside. I started snacking Vicodin on a monthly basis — roughly in the neighborhood of two to eight pills per month. The hydrocodone in Vicodin can be highly addictive.
Fortunately, I never had an issue with Vicodin addiction, but it really bothered me that I was so heavily reliant on a narcotic—it seemed so, well, dependent.
A couple of years ago, a friend suggested that I try a CBD mouth spray for my headaches. I was all ears, as she told me that it not only provided her with pain relief, but she was able to fully function. The CBD spray didn’t make her tired, and she found it a more natural way to medicate. It had seriously never occurred to me that people weren’t necessarily smoking their medicine nor were they getting high.
The CBD sublingual spray brand that I use comes in a bunch of different CBD-to-THC ratios. In my opinion, CBD is the magical ingredient in cannabis.
CBD Stopped My Migraine Pain
CBD and THC are two of the most prevalent cannabinoids found in cannabis. There are over 60 other cannabinoids that also make up the cannabis plant—along with several hundred other compounds. THC is psychoactive and is what gets people high, which for some people is great. CBD on the other hand is non-psychoactive and doesn’t affect our CB1 brain receptors in the same way as THC does.
Both THC and CBD share many of the same medical advantages, but each person reacts differently when ingesting these cannabis compounds. For me, THC is like kryptonite—my system simply cannot handle it; I short circuit.
CBD is now finally coming into the limelight due to its remarkable properties. Preliminary research points to its anti-seizure, pain-relieving and anticancer properties. As well, CBD may prevent diabetic neuropathy; it’s hailed as a nerve protector; reduces nausea and vomiting, suppresses seizures; combats anxiety; alleviates inflammation in the body; and the list goes on and on.
This is me screaming from the top of my work desk: IT ALSO STOPPED THE PAIN CAUSED BY MY MIGRAINES with zero gnarly side effects.
RELATED: 6 TOP WAYS TO CONSUME CBD
Finding the Right Balance Between CBD & THC to Treat Your Migraines
Another interesting thing to note about CBD is its unique ability to work in conjunction with THC. CBD is able to stop the negative effects that may be felt from ingesting too much THC. In effect, CBD can reduce any overly intense psychoactivity caused by THC—in other words, if your little brother smokes too much marijuana and locks himself in the broom closet, you give him CBD.
As a result, you’ll see many products that use ratios of 1:1 CBD to THC, or greater CBD-to-THC ratios. The ratio of THC to CBD is very important based on the relief you want to feel and your tolerance for the psychoactivity inherent to THC.
All that said, I will leave the topic of ratios and dosage for another posting. If you’re like me, and have a highly negative sensitivity to THC, you may want to consider a high CBD product. Whatever the case may be, talk to your doctor as well as a reputable licensed producer before buying and trying any new product.
RELATED: CANNABIS 101: THC VS. CBD
So, to wrap it up, if CBD worked for me, it may also work for you. This story is one of the reasons we started HelloMD. We saw there was a great need for people to gain access to medical cards so they might be able to purchase medical marijuana legally. We advocate for people to try medicinal marijuana to treat a number of health conditions and/or symptoms whether they be small or large. Because, in our opinion, it offers a viable, relatively safe medical alternative to Big Pharma.